All the race results this term had suggested that Caius were very likely to stay head of the men's first division, by a significant margin. Bankside pundits scoffed at the idea that a fairly lightweight 1st & 3rd Trinity crew would handle a screaming headwind better than the powerful Caius 1st VIII. Predictions were proved wrong on Thursday, when gale force winds blowing directly up the long reach made Caius lose their form coming out of Ditton and the headship just after the railway bridge.
Once lost, headships are very hard to win back, but Caius dug deep and closed to a quarter of a length on Friday, and a nail biting six feet down the long reach on Saturday. 1st & 3rd have proved again that it is not necessarily power or technique which determines results in the bumps. It is sheer effort of will, a total lack of compunction, and good luck: Martin Peck, the 1st & 3rd captain described his week as "fairytale stuff." Whether these three magic ingredients will be enough to hold off Emma next year remains to be seen: the boys in blue and pink seem to be building up unlimited momentum, winning their blades for the second year in a row, to finish in second place.
The Cambridge Student, 9th March 2000
What seemed to be one of the windiest days of the year brought with it a few surprises. In the Men's first division, unfancied 1st & 3rd Trinity surprised everybody by taking a length off Caius as they came round Ditton into the murderous headwind and then finishing the job just past the railway bridge...
1st & 3rd Trinity successfully held on to the top spot, pushing away Caius around Ditton, who, up till that point, had been gaining on them....
The final day of the competition witnessed the hard fought struggle between 1st & 3rd Trinity and Caius end in 1st & 3rd taking back the Headship they lost last year, much to the dismay of the Caius supporters.
There was shock at the top of the men's division when Caius were unsaddled by the white horses in the Long Reach, and ended up being toppled off the top by 1st & 3rd Trinity coming out of the Railway Bridge. Initially, Caius looked to be cruising and had added half a length to the 1 1/2 lengths start gap by the Plough.
However, as they rounded Ditton Corner, they rowed into one of the strongest head winds for many years.
The wind appeared to destroy their rhythm, knocking them back to within a length of their new challengers.
1st & 3rd steadily closed down the Long Reach and were within a canvas at the White House, then had a six-foot overlap approaching the Railway Bridge.
A final spurt saw Caius hold them off for another 10 strokes, contact finally being made just upstream of the bridge. The wind also sealed the fate of Downing in the middle of the division and Queens' at the bottom when both crews, already under pressure from pursuers, rounded Ditton Corner and virtually came to a halt...
The scene, though is set for good racing tonight. In the men's, Caius can be expected to give Trinity a run for their money.
1st & 3rd Trinity kept their cool to emerge surprise Head Boat on Saturday, holding off everything Caius, favourites to retain the title, could throw at them
Trinity toppled Caius on the second night when they were unable to cope with a strong head wind verging on a gale
On the final day, Caius, beaten by just a quarter of a length on Friday, left their main challenge until later, storming back from one length down coming out of Ditton Corner to a quarter of a length deficit at the glasshouses.
However, Trinity kept their nerve and started to pull away before a second spurt by Caius at the Railway Bridge again brought the challengers to within a quarter of a length.
That was Caius' final push - by Morley's Holt, 1st & 3rd were one length clear and went to finish 1 1/2-lengths in front, the same as their starting distance. Behind them, Emmanuel lowered Lady Margaret's colours coming out of Ditton to claim their oars after making four bumps during the week...
|Saturday: The Plough Reach crowds - Caius' bowman's blade looming into view|